Currently in the United States, over 44 million Americans spend on average 20 hours per week caring for a loved one whether it’s a family member or a close friend. This care ranges from doing a few helpful things like preparing an extra meal or helping with shopping and house cleaning to more personal chores like bathing, toileting, dispensing medications and helping with medical matters. According to AARP, it’s family caregivers who provide over 75% of the unpaid “informal” care to those who need it. This amounts to an incredible 37 billion hours of unpaid care. For many caregivers the journey to caregiving is slow and gradual as they take on more and more of the daily responsibilities of helping a loved one age comfortably in their own home. For others, the route to “caregiver” happens in a tragic instant after their loved one faces a medical crisis. The average caregiver provides personal care and performs household maintenance chores for at least twelve hours a week for an average of 4.3 years. Despite all these figures, caregivers don’t see themselves as such. They view themselves as daughters or sons helping out or temporarily stepping in after some crisis. They’re doing what’s considered to be the norm as a loving family member. Yet this is all done despite the fact that they are juggling their own personal family life and a job. They can be certain of one thing – the caregiving doesn’t get easier. It generally gets more complicated and takes up more and more of their limited time. Eventually there is a price to be paid. The ever-growing burden of caregiving often results in stress related illness, emotional or mental health problems, and stressed family relations. For these reasons, it’s important for family caregivers to identify themselves as such. If you don’t think of yourself as a “caregiver”, you probably won’t take the next step of looking for support and information to help you along your journey. Fortunately, help is out there. A good starting point would be a family meeting to identify your loved ones needs and problems and to develop a plan for sharing responsibilities. There are many caregiver support groups, some of them on-line, that offer educational information and emotional support. You can connect with others who are also dealing with the same issues that you are facing. Adult respite care is available whether through a senior center or a home care agency. This would give you a temporary mental and physical break. So recognize your role and realize you are not alone and know that YOU ARE A CAREGIVER. Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
Tag Archives: Home Care
According to the Census Bureau, there are over 43.1 million persons in the United States that are 65 years of age or older. The elderly population is expected to double to 80 million when all the “baby boomers” have reached their elderly years. Due to advances in medical science these baby boomers will be living longer and that translates into huge numbers of people living with chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, or dementia. A large population of chronically ill older people means that more and more seniors will be dependant on others for help with their activities of daily living – in short, they’ll have a caregiver whether it’s a family member or a professional from an agency.
Caregivers are now and will increasingly in the future be an important component of doctor visits for the elderly. According to a study by Jennifer Wolff, PhD of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, doctor visits that include caregivers are an increasing trend that has important benefits. Her study showed that visits that included a caregiver lasted at least 20% longer and resulted in less social conversation between the doctor and the senior and more biomedical information being given to the patient. This is really important because a trip to the doctor is all about communication and the exchange of information. Doctors need information from patients to provide an accurate diagnosis and to provide treatment options. The patient needs to be able to clearly discuss and understand what’s going on. This is where the caregiver’s presence can be very valuable.
A caregiver can help the senior with every aspect of the visit beginning with getting ready for the visit by gathering all the necessary medical history information and making a list of current medications and by preparing a list of symptoms for the doctor along with any questions the senior may have. During the visit, the caregiver can make notes for the senior and can remind them of any symptoms they may have forgotten and can relate to the doctor any changes in the senior’s general health and abilities. In effect, the caregiver is a second set of eyes and ears and can request further clarification about the diagnosis, treatment options, and what can be expected down the line. After the visit, a caregiver can support the senior’s compliance with the doctor’s instructions by encouraging them to follow the prescribed course of treatment along with taking their medications as prescribed and by helping them further understand the doctor’s instructions if necessary. This in turn can help reduce possible hospital readmissions.
According to the study by Dr. Wolff, seniors and loved ones who have been accompanied by a caregiver to a doctor ended up being more satisfied with their overall care and were shown to be more likely to remember important information after their visit to the doctor. Please share your thoughts and experiences below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
I was at the florist last weekend to order flowers for a special occasion. While there I noticed an elderly lady looking over the pots of daffodils and tulips. We struck up a conversation and she confided in me that she needed some flowers to boost her spirits. It has been such a long and cold winter that she just needed a reminder that spring really is coming. As we talked, she told me she could count on one hand how many endless winters like this one she had seen in her ninety two years. After she made her purchase, she asked if I would help her to her car. She had one of those four-pronged canes in one hand and a pot of daffodils in the other. I took the flowers from her and offered her my arm for support as we walked through the door, chatting the whole time and marveling at the warmth of the sunshine. She pointed out her vehicle, a massive old model Grand Marquis. As we approached the car she suddenly exclaimed “Oh no honey, I drove!” I had automatically escorted her to the passenger side, assuming someone had driven her to the florist and was waiting for her in the car. After making our way to the driver’s side she fumbled in her purse for her keys and I helped her get in, loading her daffodils and the cane on the passenger seat. We said our good-byes and I stood in dumbstruck silence noticing a variety of scratches and dents as she drove away. I kept thinking “there’s an accident, just waiting to happen”.
Hopefully, that lovely lady made it home in one piece and without incident. It seems to me that somewhere along the line a family member or friend should talk with her about assessing her driving. As you reach your senior years, at some point you may need to limit your driving or stop altogether. There are so many issues that can limit the ability to drive. Reaction time slows with age and mobility problems can make it difficult to look over your shoulder to change lanes or move your leg back and forth from the gas pedal to the brake. In addition, vision declines leaving many seniors to deal with glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. Hearing problems would make it harder to hear the warning sounds of honking horns or ambulance sirens. Combinations of medications can affect the senses and reflexes. Everyone ages differently and some can drive later in life than others but if you have a senior in your life, it may be time to assess their driving. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to start that conversation before they got to the flower shop! Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com"
The holiday season is finally in full swing and before your know it, we’ll be ushering in the New Year. We’ll be looking at the past year and promising ourselves that this new year will be different. We’ll think of all the things that went wrong and come up with a nice list of changes for the coming year that will make everything so much better. Sound familiar? As caregivers, it’s easy to blame ourselves for anything that might have gone wrong while we cared for our loved one. Did we put our loved one first? Were we attentive to their needs?
I’m sure the list of New Year resolutions will look something like this:
#1. I will get all the sleep and rest I need.
#2. I will do all I can to have a healthy lifestyle.
#3. I’ll ask for and accept all the help I can get.
#4. I will do something every day to de-stress a bit.
#5. I promise to keep up a social life.
#6. I will communicate and share with others who are going through the same experiences I am.
#7. I will use respite care whenever I can.
#8. I will learn all I can about my loved one’s condition.
After looking at all of these resolutions, you can see a common thread. They can all be replaced with an attitude adjustment. As caregivers, we need to shift our concerns to caring for ourselves! Somehow it seems wrong to even say that. We’ve spent an awful lot of time putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own and just thinking about yourself seems so selfish. The thing to remember is that if we aren’t in good shape physically and emotionally, we’ll be ineffective as caregivers and end up being useless to those we care for. This year my goal is to wake up every morning and remind myself that it’s all about me. What resolutions are you making for the new year? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
Last evening, on the way home from work, I narrowly escaped a fender bender—not once, but twice. I had come to a stop at a red light while in the inside lane of a four lane road. A moment later, I noticed a bright red sedan with it’s left turn signal on pull past me into the intersection in the lane to my right. My first thought was that the driver had simply forgotten to turn off their turn signal. Fortunately, I hesitated when the light turned green, and then the red sedan cut right across the front of my car and made a left turn in front of me. That momentary hesitation kept my car intact. As she sped off, I noticed the driver of the other car was a very elderly lady whose head was barely visible above her steering wheel. I then cautiously made my turn only to find myself once again traveling next to the same lady. A mile down the road she suddenly sped up and pulled right in front of me and then came to a complete stop with her left turn signal on, once again. She apparently thought she was in the left turn lane which was actually further to the left. I braced myself, expecting to be rear-ended by whoever was behind me. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and I took off, very relieved she had made her turn.
My first instinct was to find a place to turn around and follow her into the parking lot and give her a piece of my mind. That would have served no purpose –I’m sure this isn’t the first time she had pulled a move like that and I’m pretty sure she’s been yelled at before. And then I thought about Mom. She’s in her late 80’s, has had her right hip replaced, walks with a cane, and drives herself pretty much to most places. She only goes to her local grocery store or the mall. Occasionally, she has a doctor appointment or goes to the dentist. And on Sunday she drives to church just a couple blocks away. Once a month there’s a Red Hats Club meeting that she car pools to with a few friends. Since her cataract surgery, she doesn’t drive at night. There a numerous scrapes on her car’s bumpers — it’s amazing how careless other people can be in a parking lot.
Last evening, on the way home from work, I learned a lesson. It’s time to have a meeting with my siblings and find a way to talk to Mom about her driving. Maybe we can convince her to use the local Senior Citizens community bus. If we take turns, we can drive her to appointments without burdening any one family member. Maybe she’d agree to hire someone to take her to appointments. If we present a united front and give her some workable options, maybe she’ll agree to stop driving. Last evening, on the way home from work, I opted to see for the first time, what was right in front of me all along. If you believe someone you love or care for may have issues that affect their ability to safely drive, contact your local Secretary of State to request a driver assessment reevaluation. Have you had to deal with a loved one’s driving issue? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
If you’re caring for a senior, you should do a drug inventory of their medications a couple of times a year. Even if they are completely capable of taking their own medications as prescribed, this is still a good idea. In fact, it’s something you should do for yourself also. There’s more to taking medications than just popping the pills and washing them down with a glass of water.
First of all, check where the medications are being stored. It’s very common to keep prescription bottles out so that seeing them serves as a reminder to take them. Often this means the drugs are stored on the bathroom counter or in the bathroom medicine chest. Both of these locations are not good for maintaining the quality of the medicine. The heat and humidity can cause the medicines to degrade. Save the medicine chest for storing medical supplies like bandages and cotton balls. Another favorite spot is on the kitchen counter or windowsill . That seems to make sense since that’s where you’d go to get that glass of water to wash them down. If that part of the counter is anywhere near the stove or any other appliance that gives off heat, you’ve got the same problem — heat and humidity. In addition, it’s never a good idea to leave any prescription drugs out in the open where someone else may get easy access to them. Your best bet is to keep all your medications in ONE location, such as in a dresser drawer or kitchen cabinet.
Other precautions you need to take are: If you use one of those handy automatic pill dispensers or organizers with compartments for each day, keep the remaining drugs in their original bottles. The amber or white plastic serves to keep light out. The labels provide important information like dosage, expiration date, and the number of the pharmacy to call for refills. Never leave a new prescription in the car. Locked cars can get very hot and affect the quality of the medications. If the prescription bottle has a cotton plug in it, remove it. The cotton can draw moisture into the container. Make sure to check the expiration date of the prescriptions so that you’re taking something that will do it’s job. Don’t share any prescription drugs with anyone else. Something that worked for you may be deadly for someone else. If you notice any physical change in the medicine’s color, odor, or texture, do not use it even if it hasn’t expired. After the inventory, dispose of the old medications responsibly. Do not flush them down the toilet where they will get into the water system. The easiest thing to do is crush them up, mix in some coffee grounds or kitty litter, and pour them into a small plastic bag. Add a little water to make a gooey mess and put the bag in the trash. What are you doing to stay safe with medications? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com